August 12, 2017 – ISSUE #19


NEWS FOR SMART DATA-DRIVEN AUGMENTED CREATIVE PEOPLE



Jump to: Smart Everything & Data Driven Innovations
Augmented Virtual Interactive Design | Creative People | Birthdays
NEWS FOR SMART, DATA-DRIVEN, AUGMENTED, CREATIVE PEOPLE
SMART

Quote:  “We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning” Jean Baudrillard

Airbnb’s design research team put together a set of guiding principles and exercises to help designers address skewed perspectives in order to create thoughtful, inclusive work. The tool, Another Lens, poses a set of questions to help you 1) balance your bias, 2) consider the opposite, and 3) embrace a growth mindset. A really great toolkit of questions that’s useful for everyone – especially click on the “behind the question” link for each question. Really informative and enlightening.

NEWS

Facebook and Google have become effectively a necessity in contemporary life. Indeed, there may be something about an online social network or a search engine that lends itself to becoming a natural monopoly, much like a cable company, a water and sewer system, or a railroad. Should their monopoly features be subject to regulation?

NEWS

Or should we, as Bloomberg and author Jonathan Taplin explore, should America’s effectively monopoly tech giants be broken up? Economists see this level of market concentration as the culprit behind some of the U.S. economy’s most persistent ailments – the decline of workers’ share of national income, the rise of inequality, the decrease in business startups, the dearth of job creation, and the fall in research and development spending.

Happily and promisingly, when the U.S. forced Bell Labs to license its patents to all comers, the result was a deluge of innovation (semiconductors, solar cells, lasers, cell phones, computer languages, and satellites) commercialized by new companies (Fairchild Semiconductor International, Motorola, Intel, and Texas Instruments) and the formation of Silicon Valley.

Since the fundamental source of monopoly power in the digital world is network effects arising from the control of data, Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures, suggests a third alternative. He thinks the only way to go up against this effect is to shift computational power and ownership of the data to the network participants. As an end-user I should be able to have all my interactions with digital systems intermediated by software that I control 100%.

NEWS

Wired Magazine says “The ecosystem of tech companies that consumers and the economy increasingly depend on is traditionally said to be kept innovative and un-monopolistic by disruption, the process whereby smaller companies upend larger ones. But when competition in tech depends on machine learning systems powered by huge stockpiles of data, slaying a tech giant may be harder than ever”.

NEWS

Also just to remind you: You Are Being Exploited By The Opaque, Algorithm-Driven Economy. Online shoppers are like Jim Carrey’s character in the Truman Show, totally oblivious to the actual forces controlling their reality.  Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy argues that the big tech companies, with their immense data advantage, are effectively making their own rules in the marketplace, beating back new market entrants, and disadvantaging customers.

NEWS

The ever-estimable Shelly Palmer has a great way to frame the problem: “The entire Internet is highly centralized. Data are routed through trusted servers on trusted networks. You trust Google with your Gmail. You trust Facebook with your friends. You trust your online banker with your money. You trust your credit card and shopping data to Amazon. You trust Verizon when you access its network. To do business online today is to trust central entities with everything about you and your actions.” The answer to all of this, of course, is the Blockchain.

NEWS

Meanwhile, check out Facebook’s so-called “digital colonialism” in The Guardian – “not adequately serving the linguistic needs of local populations; featuring a glut of third-party services from private companies in the US; harvesting huge amounts of metadata about users; and violating the principles of net neutrality”.

NEWS

Elsewhere in LARB, Ron Hogan reviews three recent books on the digital economy: Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, and Brad Stone’s The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World.

NEWS

Finally, Jordan Brower argues that the hit HBO show Silicon Valley reflects the frightening contingency of the tech and entertainment industries, and of “the contemporary economy of labor in general.

SMART EVERYTHING AND DATA-DRIVEN INNOVATION
DATA-DRIVEN

Quote: “Torture the data, and it will confess to anything” Ronald Coase; “Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment” Jean Baudrillard

Here’s three really great resources on AI, ML, Neural Networks, and Big Data, well worth bookmarking: 1) Robbie Allan’s Curated List of AI and Machine Learning Resources from Around the Web – links to researchers, organizations, video courses, youtube, blogs, Medium writers, books, Quora, podcasts, newsletters, and conferences;

2) and his excellent series of short introductions to aspects of Machine Learning, classification, regression, supervised learning, unsupervised learning, reinforcement learning, deep learning, convolutional neural networks, recurrent neural networks, NLP, and generative adversarial networks;

and 3) Stefan Kojouharov’s brilliant visual cheat sheets – the graphic explanations of Neural Networks and ML are especially instructive and helpful.

AI is silently reshaping our entire society: our day-to-day work, the products we purchase, the news we read, how we vote, and how governments govern, as well as serious issues like prison sentences, credit scores, or housing. These algorithms are often proprietary: We don’t know exactly how they work or how they’re designed. This makes it virtually impossible to audit them, which is why research that digs into how AI is programmed is so crucial.

NEWS

Maelle Gavet, in a World Economic Forum post, considers both the inevitability and the problems of AI entering into government – “Make no mistake, algorithmic regulation is on its way” – but with self-reinforcing biases, vulnerability to attack, and wondering who’s calling the shots, are governments up to it, and that algorithms don’t do nuance.

NEWS

A Deloittes report (complete with a beta chatbot you can ask questions of) on “AI-augmented government – using cognitive technologies to redesign public sector work” explores three broad categories: 1) 1) Robotics and Cognitive Automation: Shifting Human Labor to High-Value Work; 2) Cognitive Insights: Better Predictive Capabilities; and 3) Cognitive Engagement: Answering Citizen Queries. Policymakers face choices about how to apply these technologies. These choices will determine whether workers are marginalized or empowered, and whether their organizations are focused more on creating value or on cutting costs.

NEWS

I met Gary Marcus in SF earlier this year. Uber bought his AI company and he left shortly thereafter and returned to Psychology at NYU:  “Artificial Intelligence is colossally hyped these days, but the dirty little secret is that it still has a long, long way to go. An international A.I. mission focused on teaching machines to read could genuinely change the world for the better — the more so if it made A.I. a public good, rather than the property of a privileged few”.

NEWS

In HBR’s cover story, The Business of Artificial Intelligence: What it can – and cannot – do for your organization by the always compelling Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade, as manufacturing, retailing, transportation, finance, health care, law, advertising, insurance, entertainment, education, and virtually every other industry transform their core processes and business models to take advantage of machine learning. The bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.

NEWS

And in a new video from Big Think, Andrew McAfee, the associate director of MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business, further explores the concept of creative AI and asks “are writers, artists, musicians replaceable?”. Further on AI and music: “Will we be slaves to the algorithm”? (h/t Grace Jones) The Guardian reports that tech firms have developed AI that can learn how to write music. So will machines soon be composing symphonies, hit singles and bespoke soundtracks?

NEWS

The Harvard Business Review reports “a great deal of consulting services is data analysis and presentation. Consultants gather, clean, process, and interpret data from disparate parts of organizations. They are very good at this, but AI is even better. For example, the processing power of four smart consultants with excel spreadsheets is miniscule in comparison to a single smart computer using AI running for an hour, based on continuous, non-stop machine learning”.

NEWS

In other words, as the City Journal says, “Professionals and Managers, You’re Next”, as well as Judges and Lawyers too.

NEWS

Firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want. By combining online and offline data, Facebook can charge premium rates to an advertiser who wants to target, say, people in Idaho who are in long-distance relationships and are thinking about buying a minivan. (There are 3,100 of them in Facebook’s database.)

AUGMENTED VIRTUAL INTERACTIVE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE DESIGN
AUGMENTED

Quote: “Reality is too obvious to be true” Jean Baudrillard

Why Hollywood Studios Are Slow to Embrace Virtual Reality – “The big elephant in the room is: How do you monetize this?” Even so, Investors Bet More Than $800 Million on Augmented, Virtual Reality in Q2.

NEWS

Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality technologies will change how we do everything that we do today & much more, that we can’t even imagine yet. Fast-forward 5 to 10 years in the context of breakthroughs in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, robotics & the bleeding-edge development of VR, MR, AR — think of all the new ways we could be acquiring & creating ‘knowledge.’ The future of immersive media technology is the future of computation – a great essay by Monika Bielskyte.

NEWS

Why Storytelling Is The Ultimate Weapon. Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. For example, How Steve Jobs’s Mastery Of Analogies Sent Apple Skyrocketing. The simple language trick is a big key to business innovation. A desktop, after all, wasn’t always on your computer.

NEWS

Thanks to Kamal Sinclair (Sundance), Ingrid Kopp (Tribeca), Sarah Wolozin (MIT OpenDocLab) and their excellent Immerse newsletter (creative discussions on non-fiction storytelling) for these two links: 30 Immersive Storytelling platforms, apps, resources & tools; and Why Storytelling Is The Ultimate Weapon. Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. For example, How Steve Jobs’s Mastery Of Analogies Sent Apple Skyrocketing.

NEWS

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis. It’s becoming clearer that the “i-Gen” is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone. We need to focus not just on social media, but on sociality, and social skills.

NEWS

Tony Fadell, one of the minds behind the iPod and the iPhone, mulls design’s unintended consequences: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?” “A lot of the designers and coders who were in their 20s when we were creating these things didn’t have kids. Now they have kids,” he says. “And they see what’s going on, and they say, ‘Wait a second.’ And they start to rethink their design decisions.” And it’s not just that these early Silicon Valley wunderkinds didn’t have children themselves – there were no women or minorities or older people around either, as sociologist Judy Wacjman points out.

CREATIVE PEOPLE
CREATIVE

Quote: “One may dream of a culture where everyone bursts into laughter when someone says: this is true, this is real” Jean Baudrillard

There seems to be a renewing interest in polymath genius Claude Shannon, the founder of our Information Age – “the most important genius you’ve never heard of”. There’s a new book, The Mind at Play and the author’s summary essay on him here; a quick 1 minute video here of “the architect of the digital age” ; a profile here of “the most important scientist you’ve never heard of”; here’s his six-step process to solve any problem; and here’s Andreesson Horowitz’s A16Z podcast from this week discussing Shannon and the ‘Mind at Play’ book.

NEWS

Princeton University’s eighth “Art of Science” exhibition showcases images scientists generate during their usual course of research in fields from embryology to plasma physics.  The “Art of Science” celebrates the visual outputs common to both disciplines. Art and science share a visual language and rely on creative processes.  Here, beauty is not an artifact, but a feature of compelling data.

NEWS

The Science Of “The Croods”: How Dreamworks Brings Mathematical Efficiency To The Creative Business Of Filmmaking. Former Oxford Professor Lincoln Wallen discusses how algorithms and process protocols are used in the creative world of animated filmmaking.

NEWS

Speaking of simulation, dozens of people in Paris were fooled by this fake dead whale found by the river Seine, and Why Dystopian Movies Look So Much Like Our World (and see birthday boy Jean Baudrillard video explainer at the end).

NEWS

Great list from Thrillist of the 100 greatest props from movies in their creators’ words (But, really – The Star Wars light sabre is No. 1 prop?)

NEWS

The Surprising Science Behind What Music Does To Our Brains – You’re probably listening to music in your headphones at work right now. Whether you are powering through your to-do list or brainstorming creative ideas, here is how the tunes you are playing affect how your brain works.

BIRTHDAYS THIS EDITION
BIRTHDAY

Quote: “Directing a film is like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car at an amusement park” Stanley Kubrick

This edition’s birthdays include a stellar list of film directors: the genius Stanley Kubrick and his top ten films (my fav: 2001); Christopher Nolan (Interstellar notwithstanding – a joke compared to Kubrick’s 2001, Inception is his best by far); A short Compilation of Richard Linklater (including Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly and Boyhood, amongst many oters); Wes Craven and his top ten films (A Nightmare on Elm Street amongst ); and Gus van Sant (Red Hot Chilli Peppers Under the Bridge, and the films Elephant, and Good Will Hunting)

Artists: Marcel Duchamp (short video from Understanding Contemporary Art from the New York Open Online Academy) – Andy Warhol (6 min. School of Life video) – Jean Debuffet (Pioneer of the amazing Art Brut, “Outsider Art”, movement) – George Grosz (of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group, known especially for his savagely caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s – curiously timely).

Great actors birthdays this edition include: Martin Sheen (in what is still one of the greatest openings in American cinemaApocalypse Now) – Woody Harrelson in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (note the The Doors song The End begins both movies)- Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential and American Beauty – and a time-series of the ever-brilliant, ever-brave, ever-beautiful Helen Mirren.

Musicians: Slash – (with the genius of Michael Jackson in a medley of songs) and Keith Levine from Public Image (U2 stole his sound and guitar style entirely!)

From Public Image to Public Enemy – Chuck D with Public Enemy at their incendiary best – Fight the Power in Brooklyn, and the other birthday guitarist  Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth (with guest artist, guess who, Chuck D).

I know Mick Jagger hasn’t made anything of note for over 30 years – but once they were truly amazing – just listen to the daring music and lyrics (and the difference between them and the audience/hosts) in Sympathy for the Devil and Gimme Shelter

And finally, Andy McKay – sax player for Roxy Music – with their break-up album and song: the exquisite Avalon … (“Your Destination / You Don’t Know It”)

And, of course, Vale Jean Baudrillard, who foresaw the world we live in (or not). Ready Player One.

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